WWBD—What Would Bernie Do?
The Republican National Committee Is Weaponizing Bernie Sanders’ Single-Payer Plan
Talking points put together by the committee don’t pitch their party’s bill so much as warn of another.
The Republican Party’s attempt to sell its latest bill to repeal and replace Obamacare relies heavily on scaring the public about what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) wants to do to healthcare in America.
Talking points put together by the Republican National Committee, which were obtained by The Daily Beast, ostensibly promote the health care overhaul written by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). But the top two sections of the document don’t address the bill at all, focusing instead on declaring Obamacare to be in a state of collapse and turning the current debate into a binary choice with Sanders’ single-payer bill.
"Obamacare failed spectacularly and devastated the American healthcare system," the talking points read. "If we allow for a complete government takeover, hardworking families nationwide will face crippling tax increases, higher wait times, and worse care."
There is little to no chance that his proposal becomes law; at least not anytime soon. But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from trying to take political advantage of it.
Two days before Sanders even introduced the bill, the RNC put out an accumulation of clips intended to highlight both the cost of the proposed legislation and other Democrats who have previously voiced opposition to the idea, intending to create a wedge on the issue.
Last Wednesday the RNC continued their crusade and released a video attempting to portray failures of the single-payer system throughout the world with dire and scary music overlaid. It ends with the message: “Don’t Let Democrats Bring a $32 Trillion Nightmare to the United States.”
On Fox News Wednesday morning, the RNC’s chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel warned that if Republicans lost the majority, “we're not going to be voting on repealing or replacing Obamacare, we're going to be voting on single-payer and you look at what Bernie Sanders has put forward.” Later in the day, the committee sent around an email declaring that “Dems' single-payer strategy backfired.”
In a statement to The Daily Beast Sanders’ office made clear that they view defeating Graham-Cassidy as the Senator's number one priority.
“Sadly, with Republicans in control of Washington, the debate right now is not about Senator Sanders’ plan to guarantee health care as a right, but whether to pass the Graham-Cassidy bill that would throw tens of millions of Americans off of health insurance," saod Josh Miller-Lewis, Sanders' Communications Director. "Our job over the next 10 days is to do everything we can to stop the Republicans from passing their disastrous plan. Instead of distracting from their efforts to destroy our health care system, the time has come for Republicans to work with us to improve, not eliminate, the Affordable Care Act.”
But the idea of single-payer coming to America isn’t just a talking point. It has become an abject fear. Republican Senator John Kennedy (R-LA.) briefly entertained voting against Graham-Cassidy out of fear that it would allow states like California to use block grants to establish a single-payer system.
With reporting by Betsy Woodruff